I Am Ready For Change...Are You?

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It has been over a month since I last posted. Ugh! Where has the time gone?

I have been meaning to get back to you all, but your girl Toya T has been busy. The past month I have been traveling (Charlotte, NC, Washington, D.C., New York City, and now Southern California with a short stay in Las Vegas ), searching for and applying to jobs, connecting with friends, partying, crying and being fully in my feelings, taking long walks, and trying to figure out my life (of course!).

During this time, I realized one major thing: I am ready to move. Specifically, I am ready for things in my professional and romantic lives to move in new, better, and more fulfilling directions. I love my job as a college professor. Working with, mentoring, and teaching students is my passion. It energizes me and has helped me grow and learn more about myself and the world.

However, what I do not love is the lack of upward mobility I have experienced in my career. I currently teach two courses a semester at a state university part-time, which means I am working without benefits or job security. For the past two years, I have been applying for positions in academic advising and student support, and I have gotten very few calls for interviews and no job offers. It has been hard to deal with because of the amount of time and effort and money I spent on my education. Excuse me as I toot my own horn here. I am a black woman with a PhD. I am part of the less than 1% of people in the world to hold this degree. Yet, despite my educational pedigree, I do not have a JOBB---extra 'b' for benefits, that is to say, retirement, health, dental, paid leave/vacation, and job satisfaction.

It is hard pill to swallow because I have degrees and not much to show for it besides the degrees. I am like the character on Kanye West's first album College Dropout who was homeless with only his multiple degrees to keep him warm. Okay...I may be exaggerating a bit. I am not homeless. I am fortunate to have two loving parents who have been able to help me financially by feeding me and letting me live in their home rent free, among other things, that allow me to pay my bills (including my 100k student loans), build good credit, travel, look cute, and apply to jobs that I want (and not those that just pay the bills). I am far from sleeping on the streets covered in my diplomas. But, I feel...stuck, blocked, unsatisfied, frustrated, unfulfilled.

Okay, so now what? How do I change this and get things in my life moving in new, fulfilling, and purposeful directions?

By changing my mindset to focus daily on what I want and how I want these changes to happen, and not on what I do not have or have not done.

I may feel that my life is stagnant now, but I can change that. I can live the life I want.

To manifest these changes in my life, I am going to set monthly intentions, and I am going to keep a log of my experiences and feelings here on Figure Out Your Life Blog for a year, so you all can follow my progression of change. The beginning of the month, or the start of a new moon cycle, is a great time to set new intentions or desires, since it takes 30 to 40 days to create a new habit or change a behavior.

If you want to join me on this journey, and you are also ready to make changes in your life, here are few things you need to know about setting monthly intentions:

First, when making intentions, you must make definitive statements. Not wishes, asks, or wants because you want the universe to know you intend, and not wish or want, for these things to happen in your life.

Second, you must state you intentions in the present tense. For example, "I am worthy of love" or "I attract a romantic relationship that fulfills me" (I used both of these statements in my romantic intentions for the month).

Third, you must TRUST these things WILL happen.

Fourth, if you feel blocked or deterred, you must take note of what is blocking you and confront it. Spend a little bit of time and energy dealing with this issue. What are the blocks in your life? How do they make you feel? What would removing these blocks do for you? Then, you must spend the majority of your time and energy on visualizing what is going to keep you aligned, attuned, and inspired.

I am ready to live my best life. Are you?


"We must remind ourselves that we are seeing only a small piece of the puzzle--that there is a whole picture, and we all fit in." -- SQuire Rushnell, When God Winks: How The Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life


Learning to Let Go of "Them" and Get the Love and Happiness I Deserve

Sometimes you gotta let people go: fake friends, toxic folks, energy-sucks,  drama-full family members, fuck boys, former loves, friends with (few) benefits.

Sometimes you gotta let things go: phone numbers of former love interests, clothes that haven't fit in 3+ years, overstretched hair elastics, broken electronics, worn out shoes, not safe for work or grandma's eyes sexy pictures of your former bae.

Sometimes you gotta let energies go: long-held hurts, emotional scars, old ideas, grudges, bad habits, doubts, insecurities, drama.

As much as I have grown personally and professionally this past year of my life, I have realized that I still have a lot of things that I need to figure out. One of the things I need to figure out in 2017 is how to let go of people who cause me nothing but unnecessary stress and heartache and whose presence in my life do not benefit me or give me the love and appreciation I want and need.

But I have a hard time letting go of the select people that I let into my heart. I am very protective of my heart and my personal space, so when I let people in, I hold onto them fiercely. I love hard. Even when these people I love show me how easily they have let me go, I hold on. I continue to care. I check in. I wish happy birthdays. I extend congratulations and well wishes. And, I rarely get anything back but hurt feelings.

To deal with my "letting go" problem, I have decided that I need a detox---a life detox.

There are some people whose phone numbers I delete and re-add and then delete again that I need to  keep deleted. Some Facebook friends I unfriend and re-friend that I need to unfriend and keep it that way. 

LET. THEM. GO....Close my eyes and inhale.... and then exhale them all out. 

In order to Grow. to Evolve. to Change. to Heal. to be Happy. to be Sane. to be Healthy.

I Refuse to Accept Less Than What I Bring to the Table

Dating in your 30s is frustrating as fuck!?! Why, as a straight, educated, black woman in my 30s, am I expected to accept less from a man than what I bring to the table?

Storytime!

I met a guy on OkCupid. Let's call him Jean. Jean is dark, tall(er than me), attractive, 30-something black man. On the dating site, he seemed nice, thoughtful, and truly interested in getting to know me and dating (with the intention of developing a romantic relationship). Jean didn’t seem crazy and most importantly did not display any fuck boy tendencies. He was attentive and communicative without being thirsty or overbearing. So, when h

e asked for my number, I gave it to him and we began to get to know each other offsite, in the "real world". 

However, as we talked more, I noticed a few things that irked me about 

Jean

Number One! He didn’t go to college. 

I understand that a college education is not the only measure of success and drive, but I did not get a feeling that he was on a career path. An electrician is on a career path because that type of work requires training, skill building, and certification (and they get paid well for the time and effort they put into their craft). Jean seemed more on a job path. And, again I know that not everyone has the freedom, drive, or resources to forgo a paying job to pursue their dream career. I myself am not working in dream career, but I am on the path. I am building networks and developing applicable skills for my dream career. But, again I know everyone's journey is different, some people's paths are short, some people's path are long, and some people's paths are crooked.  Thus, in an effort to keep an open mind, I pushed aside my feelings about his lack of a college degree. The important thing was he was employed and was able to support himself.

Number Two! He is Catholic and it is important to him. 

Religion is a touchy subject (along with politics). Somehow, we got on the subject of him being Catholic. I informed him that I was also Catholic. Jean thought this was great because he assumed that we would have no religion or faith-based issues. I immediately disagreed.  Being born and raised Catholic does not play an important role in my life. I am more spiritual than religious. I believe in God and in living a life that is as moral and caring as possible.  I disagree with the Catholic Church on several major issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, priests being men only,  to name a few. Because I am not religious, I am weary of men who place religion high on their relationship priority list-- you know, the type of men who state that they are looking for a "Godly woman". I don't know what that means and I really don't want to know. But, in the case of Jean, he seemed to be okay with my views on religion, and he even shared a few of my views on the Catholic Church. 

Then, it happened. The deal breaker! He asked me what I was looking for in a man. 

I told him. I am looking for a man who is educated, career driven, and open-minded, loves traveling, eating good food, drinking strong drinks, and trying new things. Most importantly, I am looking for a man who is interested in building a relationship based on friendship, love, laughs, communication, and respect. 

His response: Do you think that you are expecting too much??? 

What in the entire FUCK!!! I told him: No, I know what I need to be happy in a relationship. I am not expecting less from a man than what I bring to the table. 

After I said this, Jean continued to press me about my relationship needs. He said that he is looking for a woman who is nice, respectful, family-oriented, and educated. Jean told me that I am expecting too much that may put stress on a relationship. I was flabbergasted and a bit annoyed. 

My list is not long. This is not a

"What Chilli Wants"

list. (Remember that show where Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas from TLC fame was looking for a husband but he had to fulfill a long checklist of requirements, including not smoking, not drinking, not eating pork, not having more than two baby mamas, and being fine with a six pack and a big penis.) 

I am not looking for a man that fits 50 things on a must-have list. I am looking for love and happiness in a relationship, not contentment. I would rather be single than be in a relationship in which I am expected to lower my standards and push aside my wants, my desires, and my needs all in the name of having a man. 

I do not need a man. I want a life partner who is also my best friend, lover, protector, co-parent, cheerleader, and ride-or-die. I am willing to comprise on my preferences on height, race, age, body type, income, musical taste, and family background. 

But, I am not willing to accept less than what I need, want, and deserve.

With all that said, I end with this message to the all the "Jean's" out there:

Boy Bye!

How I Lost 17lbs in 2 Months

Weight loss

Today marks two months since I started this 50 lb weight-loss journey on July 25, 2016. I am proud to announce that I am now 17 lbs lighter.

Honestly, it has not been easy. There have been many days that I wanted to run to Shake Shack for a delicious double Smoke Shack cheeseburger, or stay in bed instead of going to the gym (and, there were those moments when I snuck and ate a piece of my brother's wings plate). But, for the most part, I pushed through those feelings and thoughts and made the healthy choices, with the help of the Super Shred Diet by Dr. Ian Smith and the Nike Training Club App, specifically the 6-Week GetLean Fit workouts.

I wanted to share my weight-loss journey with you all to show that it can be done. You don't need to starve yourself or live in the gym to see results. You just have to be ready and willingly to make healthier choices---to walk more, to eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, pick up some light weights, and eat smaller portions. If you can gain it, you can lose it.

Week 8: 

Are you trying to lose weight? What are you doing to reach your weight loss goals?

I Lost 4.2 lbs in aWeek on the SuperShred Diet

My first week of trying to figure out how to lose 50 lbs is completed. And, I am happy to share that I lost 4.2 lbs. Yay!!! **pelvic thrust** 

FRONT VIEW                              

   SIDE VIEW

Honestly, this week was not easy. I WAS SO HUNGRY the first 3 days of Week One.  It felt like my stomach was going to open up, grow teeth, and chew off someone's arms (like in the 1982 horror film The Thing). As I stated in an earlier post, I have no problem working out, despite the fact that I hate working out. My problem is food, or more specifically (eating) fatty (delicious) food. To help me refocus my eating habits, and my appetite, I am using "Super Shred: The Big Results Diet: 4 Weeks, 20 Pounds" by Dr. Ian Smith.

I chose this diet because it allows me to eat food, drink liquor (albeit a limited quantity), and lose weight in a short period of time. Plus, I have successfully lost weight using two of Dr. Smith's other diet books ("The Fat Smash Diet: The Last Diet You'll Ever Need" and "Extreme Fat Smash Diet: With More Than 75 Recipes"). I have tried the Super Shred diet before but I don't think I ever completed. This time I am determined to complete it, and I am using a few other health tips to help me slim down.

To supercharge my weight loss, I have started drinking a flat belly detox drink, which consists of grapefruit juice, honey, and apple cider vinegar. It is suggested to drink a cup of this mix 2x a day for 14 days. But because I do not like the taste of grapefruit juice, I have been trying to drink at least once a day with lunch or dinner. 

I definitely suggest trying out this drink, since each of its ingredients have their own weight-loss and health benefits. Grapefruit is a fat-burning food that improves blood flow and helps your body metabolize sugar. Honey is a simple sugar (much healthier than processed or refined sugar), filled with vitamins and nutrients that boosts and revs up your metabolism. Apple cider vinegar helps to regulate your blood sugar levels, which prevents sugar from being stored as fat, and clean out your system (check out its many many health benefits here). 

I have also started drinking 66 ounces of water a day. This has not been too hard for me, since I developed a love for water from my Fat Smash diet days. Plus, it has been hot as hades outside.   Water has been shown to have significant weight-loss benefits. It keeps you hydrated during workouts and it helps to stave off hunger by making you fill fuller faster. The fuller you feel, the less food will eat to fill your belly. Health experts suggest you drink half of your body weight in water (in ounces) to reap the hunger-busting benefits; for example, a 135 lbs woman should be drinking 67 ounces of water (or a little more than 8 glasses of water a day). I tried doing that, but it was very, very, very hard due to my actual weight, which is way more than 135 lbs. I want to lose weight, not drink a large aquarium of water a day. It is bad enough that drinking tons of water makes you have to urinate several times a day. I feel like my 88 year old granny due to the amount of runs to the bathroom I have to make a day. I truly believe that 66 ounces is best. It is doable and satisfies the 8 glasses of water a day that is suggested by most physicians. For an extra health boost, I mix a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with the 32 ounces of water in my trusty Columbia water bottle. 

Paired with my Nike Training Club 7-week Lean Fit workout plan and 8-week Running for Weight Loss plan (which I will discuss in a later post), the Super Shred diet is helping me get closer to my 50 lb weight loss goal without starving myself or joining the cast of The Biggest Loser.   

#PhenomenalWomenMonth : Old Skool Ladies Hip Hop Classic "I Wanna Be Down" Remix

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Old Skool Ladies HIP HOP ... Classic I WANNA BE DOWN // BRANDY...

Old Skool Ladies HIP HOP ... Classic I WANNA BE DOWN // BRANDY // QUEEN LATIFAH .... #PressPlay

Posted by Vintage OLD SKOOL on Sunday, March 20, 2016

Talk about "Black Don't Crack!" : 1995 (image on top) and then 2014 (image on the bottom)

Spring Break is the Right Time to Travel to Somewhere New

It is officially spring break time. As a college professor, I look forward to this break because it not only gives me the opportunity to re-energize for the rest of the semester, but also gives me the chance to travel.

Last spring break, I traveled to Japan for the first time and fell in love with Japanese culture and food. This year I am taking a shorter (but much needed) trip to the French Caribbean island of Martinique. It is my first time visiting the country and I can't wait to explore. I got a round trip ticket for $188 (total!!!!!) from Norwegian Airlines.

The airline has been having a sale from a few major US cities to the French Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. One-way tickets are as low as $49. Yes, I said $49 for a direct flight from Boston/New York/Baltimore to the Caribbean. Generally, a roundtrip ticket to this part of Caribbean is between $600-$800. The price was way too attractive to ignore.

I will post more information about my trip once I touch down on the beautiful island. In the meantime, check out my video on why everyone needs to travel.

Making New Year's Resolutions (Out of Last Year's Resolutions)

It is 2016. A brand new year, a chance for a brand new start... (pause)

Reflecting on 2015, it was actually a pretty great year for me. Although I did not accomplish all of my five new year's resolutions for 2015, I can't say that I want to change much for 2016. I think  revising or tweaking some things in my life may be the better choice than changing them.

So, let's review my five new year's resolutions from the previous year:

1. Get a jobB (i.e., job with benefits)

 I really tried on this one. Sent out tons and tons of resumes. Got all the way to final round but no dice. I guess it was not my year for a job with benefits. But, I did get a lead on a few good ones for the next year so....I will say this goal is in a work in progress.

2. Be in a long, healthy, happy relationship

Yes. I am still single (sorry mummy and daddy). But, the men I dated were not right for me. One guy was very nice but not interested in anything I liked to do. Another was celibate indefinitely but wanted to spank me (WTF, bro?). Another was a

unreliable, inconsiderate, self-centered man

 Fuck Boy. I am not interested in sacrificing my happiness and self-worth to "have a man."

However, if you want to get technical,  I did kinda accomplish this goal. This past year I was in a very long, loving, and healthy relationship with myself. Toya T and I went on many amazing adventures together. We laughed, we cried, we watched Netflix and chilled, and we ate some yummy food. So, I am going to reward myself for this one. Yay to me!!! This year I am going to add "with a man" to end of the resolution and hope for an equally successful outcome.

3. Move into my own place

Fail! I still live at home with my mummy. But, I don't pay rent...so Yay!! Adding this one onto the 2016 list (without revisions).

4. Travel some place new internationally and domestically

Success! Goal! Touchdown! I traveled to 2 continents and 8 countries in 2015, including my first trip to Asia. It was definitely a year of travel. I saw some amazing things, ate some yummy foods, and made some great memories. This goal is getting added to the 2016 (without revisions).

5. Tone up and get back into a size 8

This one did not happen. I started and stopped several times but just couldn't keep a momentum. Though I am the biggest I have ever been,  I have learned to not beat myself up about it. I am still fly, even as Juicy T. And, this is just a challenge that I have to spend a little extra effort and time on in 2016.

Overall, I may not have accomplished all of my resolutions, but I have definitely laid the groundwork to achieve them in the future; hopefully 2016 will be that year.

How To Be Happy At Work: Be Authentic

In an earlier blog post, I talked about the

importance of living in your truth.

 I specifically discussed how I decided to be more authentic at work, in the classroom with my students. I was really tired of splitting my energy between presenting a professional image of a college professor (that was very much based on a socio-historical/cultural image of college professors as "old white men") and being myself. When I first started teaching at my current university, I was so worried that the students were judging me based on my youth, race, and gender that I developed a

severe anxiety

 about my teaching (despite this being my third university teaching job). I was afraid of my students viewing as "the unqualified, bad black female professor." So, I over-prepared and carefully chose my words when I spoke. And, if I misspelled or mispronounced something, I internally freaked out and then beat myself up about it after class. I hated going to work. I was miserable, severely anxious, and deeply depressed. This way of being was not healthy and limited my capacity to put forth my best work. 

Though things got better as I got used to teaching at this university, I still had a bit of anxiety about my teaching. This all changed this semester; I decided that I was going to stop "playing professor" and just be myself all the time---smart, young, loud, opinionated, quirky, emotional, a bit fearless, and #veryblack. I wore my "

Notorious BIG

," "

Hillman College

," and "

Because of Them We Can

" sweatshirts, and 

Nola Darling shirt pins

, with my dress pants, skirts, and shoes. I didn't back down from talking about racism, sexism, homophobia, police brutality, islamophobia, xenophobia, and other social ills happening on campus and across this country. I let go of my insecurities and "kept it 100" (as one of my students said). I stopped worrying about their evaluations of me. I talked to my students the way I talk to everyone else in my life. I challenged my students and myself to be honest, open, and authentic inside and outside the classroom. I admitted when I was wrong or didn't know something. I laughed at my spelling mistakes and brain farts. I allowed my passion for teaching take up 100% of my energy and focus while I was in the classroom. 

After doing all of these things, I can honestly say I no longer feel anxious. Instead, I am now happy at work. And, I am getting the respect and praise that I wanted, needed, and deserved. 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Here are the responses I received (in the form of notes from some of my students and a special message from the Provost/Vice President of Academic Affairs) after I decided to "be authentic" at work: 

Professor Tavernier, I thank you so much for all the work you have done and all the care you have taken for your class this semester.  You can see what a difference you are  making.  How lucky we are to have you teaching with us.

To all of you, thank you for all you do.

Thanks,



Provost, Vice President for Academic Affairs

thank you for teaching this semester and making my brain work. 

Happy Holidays,

Akira

Hope you have an wonderful christmas break Dr. T.

It was a pleasure having you as a professor, hope to see You again soon.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Thanks, 

Crayton

Professor, I would just like to thank you for an incredible semester! I learned a lot and I hope we can stay in touch. Have a good break and happy holidays!

-Gregory

I really enjoyed our class this semester and I hope that you have a great break.

Thank you, 

Amber

Thank you for a great semester!

Hope to see you soon,

Joleen

i wanted to thank you for an amazing semester and experience have a happy holiday and wish the best for you in the future.

Sincerely,

            Rony

I had a wonderful semester. I will easily try to take another one of your classes. i hope you had a great holiday, and Happy new year!

Kenneth

Thank you for being such a great influence on me this semester. You have taught me more life lessons than probably anyone. I appreciate you so much and am truly going to miss you. I am going to visit you next semester so please send me your office hours! Have a fabulous winter break and a very Merry Christmas! Don't forget about me!  <3 

-Maddy 

Thank you for a great class. You really opened my eyes to alot of things and I learned alot as well. 

Keep keepin  it real

Thanks again, 

Timothy

Thank you for teaching our class. I truly enjoyed it. Have a good break!!

-Samantha

Professor, 

Thank you for a great semester!

   -Olivia

It was a pleasure being in your class.

Thank You

Alex

Thank you for a fun and interesting class. I feel it really helped me learn a lot about things that are super important to me.

Thank you!

Jace

I hope you have a great break and thank you for being a great teacher. I look forward to taking another class with you in the future!

Thanks again,

Bobby

I just wanted to say thank you for this semester. You were one of the best teachers I've ever had and I am looking forward to being in your class (white collar crime) in the spring semester.

Enjoy the holidays,

Sydney

Hello Professor Tavernier, 

I Just wanted to say Thank you for all your help and support during the class it was greatly appreciated and I learned a lot and I definitely keep in touch! Have a great break 

Hi Dr.Tavernier,

‪I really enjoyed your class.You made it fun and a real learning experience.I wish the best to you and your family for a happy and joyfull holiday. 

Dan

How to Deal with Judgmental Family Members During the Holidays

In this episode of "The Read,"Crissle gave one of the dopest reads I have heard this year. Because she said it so well, I am going to use her words unfiltered to give a special message to some of my friends and my family for this holiday and for the new year (note: if you feel like I am talking to you, I probably am. Take note so you don't get the wrong end of my holiday cheer this year. Or, disown me, unfriend, delete my birthday, and keep my name out of your mouth).

Here is an excerpt of Crissle's read for family members that may want to open their mouth to make you feel small or less than because they have a problem with how you live your life:

"Do not let anybody start shit with you this year. A lot of us are encouraged to keep quiet, be nice, and just get along or don't say nothing, or respect elders--that's a big one. Or don't rock the damn boat. And don't be like this on Christmas and don't make it awkward. No, fuck them. Niggas shouldn't make you feel awkward. It's not your fault for retaliating. It's they fault for having the nerve to say something to you in the first fucking place. It's not your fault. You not wrong. You should not be admonished for say 'hey fuck you, I'm a grown ass adult and I'm going to do whatever I want. I like my body. I like my hair. I like my life. And you don't get to tell me that it needs to be any different.' Fuck them niggas. Don't let your uncle, aunty, grandma, niece, nephew, play cousin, don't let nobody try you this year. Cuss them niggas out and let them know you are not the one."

(The full episode for your listening pleasure)

My Top 5 Monica Songs

I told y'all that I planned to end this year with a big bang. On Sunday, I will be attending my second concert of the month. This one is a little different because I have loved this artist for 20 years, from my preteen years to my 30s. I can remember first seeing Monica's "Don't Take It Personal" video on one of BET's (now defunct) music video shows and loving everything about her and the song. She was young, sassy, and gorgeous. Back when it was Monica versus Brandy (though I love both of them) in the teen pop singer wars, I was team Monica all the way. She was one of the artists on my music bucket lists to see perform live and this weekend I can check her off. Even better, I have VIP tickets and I will get a chance to meet her, get her autograph, and talk a picture with her. I hope I don't start crying (because that would completely mess up the epic picture I plan to take with her).

So, in anticipation of my Monica experience, I have compiled a list of my favorite Monica songs. Sit back and enjoy the amazing vocals of Miss Monica. 

Album---"Miss Thang"

Album---"Miss Thang"

Album---"New Life"

Album---"New Life"

Album--"Still Standing"

Quit the Job You Hate & Find the Right Career

"It doesn’t matter how far you might rise...At some point, you are bound to stumble. … And when you do, remember this: there is no such thing as failure. Failure is just life trying to move us in another direction."  -Oprah Winfrey

What I Wore: College Homecoming Event

This past weekend was the homecoming weekend for my alma mater, Columbia University. I haven't been able to attend any homecoming events since I moved out of New York 6 years ago. The last time I was able to attend an event was 2008. So, I was super excited that I was able to attend this year's Black Homecoming Event, hosted by the Black Alumni Council of Columbia University. I pulled out all of the stops: new dress, hair professionally done, and my best nail art.

Here is what I wore: 

Columbia University Class of 2005 (and a special member of Class of 2007). Providence Night Club, NY, 2015.